Valencia – We All Need a Reason to Believe
Record Label: Columbia Records
Release Date: August 26, 2008
Despite being broken up for the past couple years, Valencia frontman Shane Henderson has been up to a lot; he actually just released a very solid EP with his new band Shane Henderous and the Future Perfect, and he actually played some Valencia songs with his old bandmates at a show recently as well. Thankfully, he’s still making music, and I’m happy he’s finally returned again. It’s about time, because the band went on hiatus, and I was rather bummed because sophomore record We All Need a Reason to Believe is one of my all time favorite records. Simply put, it’s a wonderful pop-punk record that has quite a lot to offer. There’s not a lot in terms of variety, because it’s a pretty straight-forward record, but I think that’s what makes it so great to me. While you know what you’re getting, it presents itself in a rather inventive way. And the best part about this record is its lasting value; I bought this record on iTunes about five years ago, and I’m still playing it today, actually.
The record starts off with “Better Be Prepared,” and this is a great song to start the record with; Shane Henderson’s vocals are absolutely wonderful here, and they are throughout the whole record. The other biggest thing for me besides the overall lasting value, are his lyrics. They’re some of the best I’ve ever heard, and I don’t say very often. That’s why this record has so much lasting value to me, essentially. My favorite records have a combination of great instrumentation as well as lyrics. This has both of them, and Henderson’s lyrics have that rare quality of being really clever but also relatable. Even five years later, a lot of these lyrics still apply to me today. Every song is one I can relate to, which is absolutely genius. While “Better Be Prepared” is not one of my favorite tracks on the record, it does start it off on a very optimistic note. Every time I hear this track, I certainly get excited for the rest of the record. Second track “Holiday” is a very straightforward pop-punk song but it works very well. It’s all about coming back home during the holidays and noticing that everything has changed, and not in a good way. This is a very relatable song, especially if you had to move away from home. Even so, it’s still a great song, regardless. Third track “Where Did You Go?” is one of my favorite tracks on the record, actually; it’s all about someone changing for the worst and you’re kind of asking yourself “where did they go?” It’s an interesting song because I’m sure we all can relate to this. That’s why I really like the lyrics on this record – like I mentioned, they’re clever, but very relatable. They’re not cliché and boring, like most bands tend to do with relatable lyrics. These are actually very enjoyable and clever. The song also touches on the topic of hoping that heartbreak is worth it, in the sense that being hurt and something bad happening will be worth in the end, like something good will happen because of it.
As the album goes on, every track follows the same kind of formula as the first three tracks. Not in the overall sound, but the fact they hit quite well, and the lyrics always have a great meaning to them. There are a few tracks that do stand out more than the rest, however. One of those tracks is seventh track “Safe to Say.” This is definitely one of the more “old school” pop-punk tracks on the record. Valencia has always been one of those bands that manage to exist on that line between pop-punk and pop-rock. “Safe to Say” is one of those pop-punk songs and it’s a great track. The chorus of that track is absolutely infectious, and the lyrics of the song are quite as well. It’s about wondering if everything will be okay and stay the same the next day when something bad happens. It’s a song that I can quite relate to as well. It’s a great track and it’s also very catchy. The last two songs, though, are the two “standout” tracks. “The Good Life” is really the only song that touches on the good side of relationships. It’s a cute little song that’s about living the dream with a girl and having the “good life” with someone. Eleventh and last track “Free” is a very fitting end to the record, because it’s just about being free and letting go of things that have hurt you or upset you in the past, which is a great message. All in all, the record ends nicely. Despite not having a lot of variety in it, it’s quite clear that these are talented musicians and they do what they do well. Sadly, however, former drummer Maxim Soria passed away in 2011 from a motorcycle accident, and that was one thing that led to the band going on hiatus. Regardless, this record is a great pop-punk record that does have a lot of lasting value to it. If it didn’t, I wouldn’t still enjoy it today, that’s for sure.